Del the Funky Homosapien’s (or tha Funkee Homosapien, depending on whom you ask) journey through Hip Hop has been an interesting one. His early career included debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here, a release whose commercial success did not match its critical acclaim, as well as various writing collaborations with cousin Ice Cube. A highly-regarded collaboration with Dan the Automator and DJ Kid Koala, Deltron 3030, led to show-stealing cameos on the Gorillaz’ self-titled debut, firmly entrenching Del as a cult favorite.
The album’s title (Golden Era) couldn’t be more fitting, though it feels decidedly tongue-in-cheek. Sure, Golden Era has Del channeling the emcees of the late 80s—stream-of-consciousness raps punctuated by ridiculous braggadocio—but through a filter that is unmistakably Del. The animated emcee brings his eclectic delivery and unique diction over low-fi production, tackling well-worn questions about the status of Hip Hop (and perhaps himself) with a humorous self-awareness.
“Double Barrel” is one of many instances on the album which play with the notion that Del is Hip Hop itself: “I, self, lord and master, using force and practice / That you swore was magic or some kind of tactic / Nah, it’s all-natural, skill in action / I do this shit chillin’, relaxin’ / Don’t even got a million to back it / But I’m iller than that shit / You feel epitomizes the rap script / That’s a flop, next scene you see a casket drop / I’m out there like NASA astronauts / I think outside the box, you deny my props / Don’t lie to yourself, you know I’m kinda hot / …Teeth growing pearly white / You don’t even deserve the mic / I’m dropping turds on sight / Like my fucking cousin, duck for cover / I’m busting clusters up, mustard gas / I’m much too fast, must I brag?”
Bars like those above don’t do justice to Del’s technical mastery when typed out; he shifts in and out of rhyme patterns effortlessly—it’s truly a clinic on rhyme. The production is no slouch either, as it serves as a perfect complement to the emceeing. The slinky bass on “Calculate” serves as a perfect backdrop to Del’s looping flow, while “Makes No Sense” brings the funk and “Pearly Gates” has a futuristic twinge of alarm to it. “Raw” may be the album’s crown jewel, however, evoking memories of Dizzee Rascal’s “Sirens.” Though these sounds are greatly varied, they all play into the thematic sound Del has constructed for himself and generally blend.
In sum, Golden Era is an extremely tight, solid package, clocking in at less than 40 minutes through ten tracks. Though there’s nothing on here that will make you forget some of Del’s more-heralded releases, there’s not a weak cut on the album. So kick back and prepare to enjoy this short-but-sweet release, equally amicable to an attentive or spaced-out listening experience.